Animation Student Earns Raves for Acting

By | November 9, 2021

Sam Fesmire

On March 12, 2020 – a few minutes before Sam Fesmire would debut as the lead in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” at Shea’s 710 in Buffalo – the show was called off due to then-breaking news about the first cases of COVID-19 in the United States.

The audience and cast went home. Nearly 20 months passed. Then, in late October, Fesmire finally took the stage as Christopher, in a performance that has garnered high praise from The Buffalo News and Buffalo Spree

“I want to tell stories,“ said Fesmire, a junior studying animation at Daemen. “There’s no shortage of things to do in life. I’ve always been passionate about multiple things – two of those things for me happen to be theater and animation.”

It’s no accident that Fesmire landed a lead role in a professionally produced play. He has performed on regional stages since before he was a teenager, in productions of Seussical, Les Miserables, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, Shrek, Cinderella, The Addams Family and many others.

Last year, Fesmire had a part in The True Adventures of Wolf Boy, a feature-length film that starred well-known actors John Turturro and Chloë Sevigny. 

“When you’re passionate about something,” he said, “you tend to put in the work to be good.”

His experience and training in theater were needed to tackle the complicated central character of “Curious Incident”.

Though the play’s script and its source material (a novel of the same name) does not explicitly state that Christopher is neurodivergent, attributes of the character strongly suggest this is the case. Approaching the role was a challenge that continues to excite Fesmire – even after first learning the part a year and half ago.

“It’s an intricate role that requires me to rediscover his world and viewpoint constantly,” said Fesmire. “More than anything, I want it to be a genuine performance that avoids caricature.”

The play – staged by All for One Productions (a joint effort by a half dozen professional theater companies in the region) – runs through Nov. 14. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 8 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are available at

Drawn to Storytelling 

Fesmire was drawn to Daemen’s animation program for its faculty, who have worked on a number of well-known Disney, Dreamworks and other films and maintain connections in the industry. 

“I enjoy entertaining people and creating an emotional response in the audience,” said Fesmire, who aspires to work as a professional animator and director. “Storytelling is what’s most important to me.”

A Fesmire illustration of Han Solo and Chewbacca

While at first glance theater and animation appear to be fundamentally different mediums – “one is live with real people, the other puts a layer between the audience and artist,” he said – they are also connected: In fact, acting on stage provides a basis for animating for Fesmire, who focuses on exaggeration and expressiveness in drawing characters in order to communicate emotion and feeling to the audience. 

“In theater, you have to perform for everyone – even the back row,” he said. “That idea is true for animation, too – except through a screen.”

Fesmire describes his animation style as similar to that in many comic books – gritty and abstract, but not unrecognizable. 

“I try to be quick and expressive in my work and get ideas down before I worry about technical aspects,” said Fesmire. “I try to keep an aspect of fun in my work, no matter what I do.”